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Mean Boss
"I'm slowly becoming a convert to the principle that you can't motivate people to do things, you can only demotivate them. The primary job of the manager is not to empower but to remove obstacles."
Scott Adams

The Mean Boss is related to the Pointy-Haired Boss, possibly edging into Bad Boss territory at times. He's certainly given the higher-ups every reason to have confidence in him. He's competent, knows what he's doing, and keeps his workers motivated. It's the way that he keeps them motivated that's the problem. He'll yell at you for being a minute late, give you mountains of work the night before it's due, have a heart attack any time you even suggest that you might deserve a raise for all your hard work, and nearly rip your head off at the drop of a hat. He may be a money-grubber, egocentric, or just plain ornery. Very often played for laughs. Dr. Jerk is another trope with frequent crossover.

Examples:

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Anime & Manga
  • Tsunade from Naruto is very much this, especially in the fillers. As Hokage (the chief of the village), she is shown to have a very short temper and is strict about shinobi going on missions and reporting back to her immediately upon completion. When enraged, she would throw her chair and other furniture out the window, and have Izumo and Kotetsu retrieve them.
  • Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist.
  • In Bambino, Ban is assigned to work under Katori Nozomi, who never pass the chance to berate, insult or even beat him up.

Comic Strips
  • Catbert, the Evil Human Resources Director of Dilbert lives up to that title. He even controls the trope-naming Pointy-Haired Boss to some extent to make everyone else's lives miserable.
  • J.C. Dithers of Blondie is quite possibly the Ur-example. (Of course, despite the fact that he fires Dagwood on a regular basis, he always hires him back for some strange reason.)
  • Mr. Pembrook of FoxTrot is quite possibly definitely an egocentric type - he once fired a massive amount of workers and then gave himself a $300,000 raise, and in another strip he sent out a memo ordering the employees to make themselves look bad in the company photo so he'd look better by comparison. He also implies in the same strip that he didn't send Roger the memo and that he wants Roger at his side specifically because Roger already meets the required directions without knowing it. In another strip he had Roger work as a clown at his son's birthday party (that's in Roger's job description; he thought it was a joke when he was hired; a lot of what happened at the party is likely best left to the imagination, but Pembrook begged him not to sue.)
  • Stuart in Retail is a combination of this and Pointy-Haired Boss. Takes pride in the fact that most employees hate him.
    • The initial district manager, Jerry, really fit the part as the jerk boss, leading Marla to comment that he was a "mean spirited jerk" (which Jerry unfortunately overheard). In the blog of the strip's character Cooper (www.coopersretailblog.com), he described Jerry as a "douchebag." In Jerry's last appearance in the strip it was revealed that he misremembered Marla's name on purpose.

Comic Books

Film
  • Butterflies Flowers: Director Domoto. Not mean so much, but tyrannical, dictatorial, and demanding. Also way hot and the Love Interest.
  • Extreme example: Darth Vader.
    • Vader implies that Emperor Palpatine is a far worse boss than himself, and Palpatine pretty much confirms Vader's statements in the expanded universe.
  • Need we mention the cube farm boss lady from Wanted?
  • Bill Lumbergh from Office Space. He always makes people work on weekends and continuously orders Milton to move his desk to increasingly absurd locations (ending in the roach-infested basement). Plus he took Milton's favorite stapler...again (which is one of the reasons why he set the building on fire).
  • Philbin in Phantom of the Paradise. The musicians that work for him are motivated through a combination of casual threats and Speed, and as far as Philbin's concerned, they're all more than replacable. Plus, he doesn't take rejection by his Ingenues well- hence his conversation with Swan, the real villain of the story.
  • Marty Wolff of Big Fat Liar is a complete Jerkass to everyone around him, but he gets his just desserts.
    • Les Grossman from Tropic Thunder is probably even worse than Marty Wolff.
  • Tyrannical Channel 8 Owner & General Manager R. J. Fletcher of UHF.
  • In Horrible Bosses the three titular bosses take meanness to a new level
    • The Psycho boss denies Nick a promised promotion and tells everyone it is because Nick drinks at work. The only reason Nick had a drink is because the boss forced him to have one.
    • The Maneater boss regularly sexually harasses Dale. When he rejects her advances, she drugs him and takes sexually explicit photos of him to blackmail him with.
    • The Tool boss has Kurt fire all the overweight and unattractive people and then moves on to the handicapped.
  • Shark Tale: Mr. Sykes.
  • Igor: King Malbert.
  • David Hasselhoff's character in Click. He's also a Stupid Boss.
  • Harold Cornish in Identity Thief, a Smug Snake executive who treats all his underlings as replaceable cogs who should be happy they even have a job. He announces for the second year in a row that the company isn't doing well enough to justify bonuses for the employees. Meanwhile, he has Sandy cut checks for "special" bonuses for the partners with himself getting a million-dollar bonus. When Sandy expresses confusion, Cornish tells him that Sandy's job can be filled by Quicken (the software), meanwhile people like him (Cornish) are the ones who make all the money for the company and deserve the bonuses, referencing The Fountainhead as an explanation.
    • Averted with Sandy's new boss, Daniel Casey, who recognizes Sandy's skills, makes him a VP and quintuples his salary. On the other hand, he's willing to fire Sandy over a case of identity theft.

Literature
  • Julius Root of Artemis Fowl is this with a dash of sexism thrown in in the beginning. Justified for political reasons; Holly was the first female recon officer, so he needed her to be a good example.
  • William Shortpaws of the Geronimo Stilton series, is definitely a mean boss. Geronimo's grandfather and owner/publisher of the newspaper where his maternal grandson works, he never misses an opportunity to remind Geronimo who's in charge, and is constantly yelling at him or threatening to fire him. He's also very cheap, and in fact is called "Cheapskate Willy" (behind his back). However, he does pay his grandson the odd backhanded compliment when he does something particularly heroic that will give the paper good publicity. He also seems to favor Thea, and will do anything she asks him to, and appreciates his cook Tiny Spicetail's cooking to the point that he actually gets her get away with her attitude.

Live-Action Television
  • Ryan Chappelle from 24
  • Mr. Pitt from Seinfeld.
  • Dr. Kelso from Scrubs is a prime example. In fact, he pretty much stated outright why he is such a Mean Boss (its how he keeps the entire hospital staff unified and peaceful, even if they hate his guts).
  • Dr. House from House, M.D.: in Season 4, he fires people for not being hot enough! at one point. Not to mention the variety of illegal, immoral, demeaning, and humiliating things he orders his staff to do, often just to satisfy his ego by reminding himself that he can.
  • Mr. Wick from The Drew Carey Show, who took great glee in coming up with new ways to fire people. Even one time he acted generous and treated Drew by taking him to a nightclub, the nightclub itself had a Hell-based theme.
  • Dr. Bykov from the Russian sitcom The Interns.
  • Bob Odenkirk played one in a Mr. Show sketch.
    Odenkirk: You call yourselves junior executives?! YOU'RE SENIOR JACKASSES!!!
  • Max is set up as one of these in the pilot of Sean Saves The World, of the unbending, humorless hardass variety.
  • In That '70s Show Red Forman is like this to his employees, and won't deny it if you raise the point. When the family is congratulating him on getting the job at Price-Mart, Hyde says "God help the poor bastards who work for you!" Red merely smiles and laughs, taking it as a compliment.
  • Louie from Taxi Zigzags this. He tries to be a Mean Boss, and he uses a lot of dirty tricks to get the better of employees (often downright illegal ones) but very few of them are truly intimidated by him at all, and he usually comes out the loser in any confrontation.
  • The Dreaded Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It - foul-mouthed, foul-tempered, brilliantly gifted at his job, and absolutely merciless with the politicians he manages, who compare him to Goebbels.
  • Subverted in the Modern Family episode "Spring-a-Ding Fling." Mitchell takes a new job at a legal clinic run by a former law-school classmate of his. Throughout the episode a number of things he sees and overhears make him think he's made a serious mistake and that she's this trope. When he finally confronts her on this in front of everyone else, every single thing turns out to be Not What It Looks Like. For example, what he thought was her telling him to groom, i.e. wash, her dog was actually her asking him to groom, i.e. mentor, an intern.
  • In Game of Thrones Robert Baratheon takes enjoyment in abusing his subordinates, at least as long as they're Lannisters. While sending a naive page to fetch a breastplate stretcher could be seen as a harmless prank, deliberately throwing his infidelity into the face of his bodyguard, who is also his brother-in-law, and incidentally is called the Kingslayer for killing the last man he was guarding, seems both cruel and stupid.

Professional Wrestling
  • Ivory and Jacqueline got this reputation as trainers in Ohio Valley Wrestling, after having been seen as cool enough on Tough Enough.
  • "The Lovely" Lacey, leading her "Lacey's Angels", especially regarding her most loyal member, Jimmy Jacobs. However, when Jacobs started the Age Of The Fall, he proved to be an outright Bad Boss...accept to Lacey, who he was just mean to but still loved.
  • Mark Henry toward Mr. USA Tony Atlas when Atlas acted as his manager in WWECW. This ended up costing Henry when he dismissed an offer for help from Atlas, leading to Henry being double teamed by CM Punk and Luke Gallows.

Video Games
  • Edgar's boss in The Act is not above smacking him around if he doesn't think Edgar is doing his job.
  • The announcer in Team Fortress 2.

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • Mr. Krabs of SpongeBob SquarePants is either this or the Pointy-Haired Boss (He's certainly got the moneygrubbing down pat).
  • Mr. Spacely, George Jetson's boss.
    • Spacely's business rival, Mr. Cogswell is just as bad. The worst part is, George is often caught in the middle of Mr. Spacely's plots to one-up Cogswell.
  • Possibly Mr. Slate from The Flintstones.
    • In a few episodes, maybe, though most episodes seemed to portray him as reasonably amiable toward his workers (Wilma even invites him to Fred's birthday party in one episode), and only going into Mean Boss territory when Fred does something foolish/job-endangering. In one episode, he even convinced his new vice president to bend the rules a little when the new company policy required employees to have a high school diploma, letting Fred keep his job if he simply took a two week course to get one.
  • Mr Herriman from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, though he heads into Pointy-Haired Boss territory for being incompetent at times.
  • C. Montgomery Burns, Homer's maniacal boss from The Simpsons.
  • Hopper from Disney & Pixar A Bug's Life
  • Cheif and Lok from the Tak and the Power of Juju animated series.
  • Rancid Rabbit from CatDog.
  • Principal Pixiefrog from My Gym Partner's a Monkey.
  • Benson from Regular Show.
    • To be fair, Benson just has to deal with slackers like Mordecai and Rigby (Muscle Man sometimes gets on his nerves as well). He's actually quite reasonable with Pops and Skips.
      • But from the point of view of the actual protagonists, Benson is a prick who takes away anything that gives the two the slightest joy (in any given episode) and then threatens to fire them.
  • Professor Pampelmoose from Sidekick.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • Numbuh 86 is downright mean whenever she is in a position to lead a team (and seeing as she outranks most other operatives, she can do that rather often; not to mention that, seeing as she's Head of Decomissions, they're downright terrified of her). Fortunately, Numbuh 362, the Supreme Leader of the organization, is much nicer.
    • Also, Mr. Boss is the Big Bad of the show (well one of them) but he's this towards his normal employees.
  • Mr. Wilter from ChalkZone.
  • Mr. Mufflin from Fanboy and Chum Chum.
  • Nester from Scaredy Squirrel.
  • Gart from Robot and Monster.
  • Temple Fugate, before becoming the Clock King, in Batman: The Animated Series. Threatening to fire an employee for being five minutes late seems mean to a normal human being, but Fugate is a Schedule Fanatic who only cares for punctuality. If you’re a punctual employee, Fugate would be civil to you, but never appreciative.
  • Chief Rojas was like this on The Batman, although in truth, Batman was the one he was angry at, and he was taking it out on his men.
  • The King (obviously modeled on Charles Laughton) who Yosemite Sam works for in the Looney Tunes short Shishkabugs.
  • Ozu from Kappa Mikey.
  • Mona Autumn from Littlest Pet Shop (2012), editor in chief for Tres Blase magazine. Turns out she only acts the way she does to weed out sycophants and those who aren't truly passionate about their work.
    Mona: If you keep telling me things I don't want to hear, I will put your career into a blender and push puree!

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